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The Challenge:

A manufacturer of dry cleaning machines approached A1X to develop a system that could closely monitor a key chemical their machines consumed. The customer wanted a secure system whereby a competitor's chemical could not be used on their machines. They also wanted the system to monitor the chemical's usage and have this information sent to them over the Internet in real time. When the chemical approached the low level, they wanted their shipping department to be notified so a new container of chemical would arrive at the customers site, just in time.

A1X created the system using a READ/WRITE RFID tags embedded in the chemical container's caps and a special RFID reader that snapped onto the cap that would attach to the machine. A1X integrated all the hardware and wrote the entire software infrastructure to make the project a success. The RFID hardware was manufactured by Colder Products Company.

Here is how the system works:

1. A1X developed a software program for the chemical manufacturer so they could program the RFID tags embedded in the container caps. This program encrypted the tag information so a competitor could not copy the caps. The caps are programmed with the number of doses in the container, a serial and lot number.

2. The owner of the dry cleaning machine connects the chemical container to the reader attached to the dry clean machine. A1X's machine based software then interrogates the RFID tag in the cap and reads the number of doses contained in the container and determines if the encrypted serial number is valid.

3. As the chemical is consumed by the machine, the dose number (contained in the RFID tag) is decremented. All information read and written to the tag is in encrypted format so trying to reverse engineer the system is impossible.

4. When the dose number reaches a pre-programmed value, A1X's software system notifies the chemical manufacturer so new chemical arrives just in time. A1X maintains a dedicated server to handle all secure communication between the dry cleaning machines and the chemical vendor.

Final Analysis:

The project resulted in a secure system that guarantees a competitor's chemical cannot be connected to the machine and the customer can never run out of chemical because they forgot to order it.



A1X Automation, LLC. | 1311 Larc Industrial Blvd | Burnsville, MN 55337 | Copyright 2009